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temper tantrums
poor relationships
separation anxiety
attachment disorder
daycare
many different types
potty training
Reactive Attachment Treatment
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Reactive Attachment Treatment

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a complex psychiatric disorder typically caused by the inadequate bonding of child and parent. Most often seen in the foreign and domestic adopted child, this disorder can be apparent in infants as young as six months of age. Many causes of this ineffective bonding exist such as abandonment, foster home placement, hospitalization, long term illness, colic, using nannies and daycare at a young age, parental avoidance, parental drug use, parental illness, parental mental illness, parent not being there for the child, parental overwork at profession, or any other social problem that separates a parent and young child. Reactive attachment treatment is available and the younger the child is when treatment begins, the better.

The symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder vary from the inconsolable infant, young child with prolonged temper tantrums, lying, stealing, defiance, hyperactive behavior, clinging, indiscriminate affection, lack of eye contact, superficial, destructive, prolonged potty training problems, hoarding food, poor relationships with peers, separation anxiety, fear of strangers, sexual acting out, splitting authority and others including head banging. The symptoms are often worse with the foreign adopted child due to the various cognitive disorders they tend to have and the level of abuse they suffered prior to adoption.

Many different types of therapy are available for treatment of Reactive Attachment Disorder. If the child is properly evaluated and not labeled with other disorders, the therapy can work. How do you know if your child was labeled incorrectly? If the treatment your adopted child is on is not working and medications are ineffective, get another opinion or two or three. If you get to your third opinion and treatment is still not working, get to a neuropsychologist specializing in the adopted child before you lose more time and money.

Some questionable therapies for Reactive Attachment Disorder exist. Rebirthing and certain holding therapy where the therapist puts the calm child in a hold and tells the child to scream out their anger don’t work that well and actually can harm the child. When dealing with Attachment Therapy, most treatment will be controversial in some way or another. Spend time investigating the type of treatment and professionals you are dealing with. Spend the time and money now and don’t wait until later. If the treatment doesn’t create improvement in at least six months, consider another treatment option.

If your child is succeeding in treatment, no matter what, continue the reactive attachment treatment. Sometimes these children are very adept at splitting authority and alienating others. The parent that persists in this treatment may become isolated due to others not agreeing with the treatment for one reason or another. The parent must continue for the good of the family. These kids create marital and social stressors that may not be overcome. As an example, the best treatment method basically is retraining the child’s brain. The first part of the program requires that the child be in very close proximity at all times. The child is isolated from friends and others until after the child passes this first stage and is basically responding to the parents. Some children take much longer than others to get through this stage. Keep it up and don’t stop if it is working. What do I mean by working?

As an example, my two kids are still in the first part of the reactive attachment treatment program after a few months. They are very recalcitrant due to the past traumas they have endured in their birth country. Having two in the program and being a single parent is very challenging and I know the odds are against success. Not alone this, but this is the second time we are doing this program because of the trauma my son has created for himself and the other child. We have been here before and know there will be success. That aside, once in the program, you will have many people tell you to let the kids off the program and let them have toys and play with other kids and have treats and privileges without earning them. So what do you do in this situation? You look at any improvement in the child’s behavior and if the treatment is working, continue it no matter what.

As an example, is it working in our case? Yes. From a child that had violent tantrums at the drop of a hat a few months ago, to a child that no longer even begins to question a task given to him; and the other child that was also out of control and being very mean to others and is no longer. After only a few months? I think that is spectacular. Do we stop and quit? NO, NO, NO… continue the reactive attachment treatment no matter what.

What will you give up when you begin proper reactive attachment treatment? You may lose friends, all support systems, jobs, money, and everything else. It may be a reality or just seem that way because you fall of the radar of others. The message is this… The children are not dogs and psychiatric illness is just as dangerous as needing an organ transplant. Keep it up, pray often, and fight for your kids. Whether adopted or not, these are your children and never, never, never give up!


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